Rev. Diane Speaks at Candlelight Vigil to Condemn Terrorist Attacks in New Zealand

On Sunday, March 17th, Rev. Diane spoke at an interfaith Candlelight Vigil in the University City Loop to condemn the horrific terrorist attacks at two New Zealand mosques and to show solidarity with our Muslim siblings. You can read her remarks below.

Thank you for the invitation to address you today. I am Rev. Diane Kenaston, pastor right here in the Delmar Loop of University United Methodist Church in St. Louis, where we invite people of all ages, cultures, races, gender identities, and sexual orientations to be you, be loved, and belong.

I am here as a representative of the Christian community.

To our Muslim siblings: We, fellow children of Abraham, mourn the bloodshed this week. We mourn the lives lost in New Zealand. And we especially mourn the anti-Muslim bigotry that appears throughout the world, not least here in the United States and in St. Louis.

Our Judeo-Christian Scriptures tell us that the blood cries out from the ground, that we are our brother’s keeper — meaning that the blood crying out from the ground was our responsibility. We have failed you, our siblings. and for that, I am deeply sorry.

As a Christian, I call on other Christians present to serious self-examination. This is our season of Lent, a forty day period of fasting when we commit ourselves to confession and repentance — to acknowledging our wrong-doing and changing our ways.

We confess that Christians, particularly when we have been in the majority, have failed to safeguard the rights of religious minorities, or value the gifts that each religious community brings to our common life.

Just this past week, the Missouri legislature authorized the Christian Bible to be taught in schools. This is only one recent example of structural inequities and Christian privilege in our local culture. As Christians who claim to follow the example of Christ, we must do as Jesus did, and lay aside our own power for the sake of those to suffer.

As a white Christian, I further acknowledge that Islamophobia is a manifestation of white supremacy. As white people, we need to do the hard work of identifying and dismantling white supremacy. In the church, we call this “renouncing evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.”

Each person here will have ways that we can commit to fighting Islamophobia, white supremacy, and bigotry in our own contexts. We can have the tough conversations, calling out the rhetoric that leads to violence. We can advocate for local, state, and national policies that support Muslims and the Islamic community. We can give financially to organizations that fight hate. We can dedicate ourselves to learning and building relationships.

But don’t take it from me. As we confess our own sin and seek to do better, we must learn to be good allies. Therefore: 
May we non-Muslims take our lead from Muslim women and men. 
May we listen to what is needed and DO THAT. 
May we elevate the voices of those most directly affected.

The blood of our brothers and sisters and siblings is crying out from the ground. May we listen, and respond.

And may the God of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar, 
the God of Ishmael and Isaac, 
be with us all, 
and grant us peace.